ETSU volleyball upends Tennessee in thriller

Carter County Sports

The ETSU volleyball team (6-1) downed the Tennessee Vols (6-1) in a five-set thriller on Tuesday night, in front of a crowd of 2,016 fans inside Brooks Gym.

Alyssa Kvarta’s 9-0 serve run in the fifth set after being down 7-0, propelled the Bucs back to win 3-2 (21-25, 25-15, 20-25, 25-19, 15-12).

“To be able to get a win in front of a crowd like that, it doesn’t matter who the opponent is,” shared head coach Lindsey Devine. “That crowd was phenomenal. It goes to show that we have the best crowd in the northeast state of Tennessee, so we’re pretty lucky. We were able to execute our game plan and I think that the girls put in a lot of heart. They used their minds when we need to, to really focus.”

“Those are kind of the things we’ve been talking about; follow the game plan, win games with your mind, play hard, and great things are going to come your way.”

Alyssa Kvarta (Crown Point, Ind.) recorded a season-high 47 assists and 21 digs to register her third double-double of the season. Her nine-point serve run helped ETSU come back from a 7-0 deficit.

Kaela Massey (Brentwood, Tenn.) led the Bucs with 16 kills, 14 digs, and four blocks to record her first career double-double. She also recorded a new personal best in both kills and digs.

Leah Clayton (Danville, Va.) and AJ Lux (Shelbyville, Ind.) had 15 kills each. Clayton’s last kill of the match won it for the Bucs.

Mariah McPartland (Boone, Iowa) led the Bucs with seven total blocks, including two solo blocks. Braedyn Tutton (Courtice, Ontario) finished with five blocks.

Marija Popovic (Belgrade, Serbia) had the team-high 29 digs. Hailey Aguilar (Chicago, Ill.) finished with 13 digs and one service ace.

As a team the Bucs finished with more kills, assists, service aces, and digs. ETSU and Tennessee each had 12 blocks on the night.

Set 1: Tennessee was able to get the first point of the match after recording a block. A 4-0 run by Clayton gave the Bucs a 5-3 lead.

From there, it was a back and forth set, as there were 12 ties. Back-to-back kills by Massey helped the Bucs grab a 13-11 lead, a 3-0 run by the Vols put them out in front. Timeouts went back and forth from ETSU and UT as both teams continued to fight.

A block by Kvarta and McPartland tied it at 21, but four straight points by the Vols would give them the 25-21 win. Aguilar and Massey had seven digs each, while Lux led the Bucs with six kills.

Set 2: The Bucs jumped out hungry in set two running away with a 10-5 lead. Serves by Aguilar, Popovic, and Kvarta were tremendous. The Bucs continued to dominate the set forcing UT to call timeout with ETSU out in front 20-12.

The Bucs kept piling on the points and AJ Lux would end the set 25-15 with a kill. Massey and Clayton led the Bucs in kills, while Kvarta had her second 11-asssist performance of the night.

Set 3: It was once again a tight race in the beginning of the set with five ties that would end at 10-10. The Bucs were able to grab a two-point lead before Tennessee’s Tessa Grubbs went on a 4-0 serve run to put the Vols ahead 16-15. ETSU would continue to trail by one or two points throughout the rest of the set, but a four-point deficit at set point would help the Vols.

Tessa Grubbs ended the third set with a kill to give the Vols a 25-20 win to take a 2-1 lead in the match. McPartland led the set with four kills.

Set 4: ETSU was eager to fight back as they quickly began a 4-0 lead through Aguilar’s serves. The Bucs would control the entire set holding a lead. Blocks from McPartland, Massey, and Tutton gave ETSU the points they needed to build upon their lead.

With ETSU leading 20-15, UT called timeout, but a 4-0 run by freshman Alyssa Hatley (Rogersville, Tenn.) put the Bucs within set point. A UT service error would end the set, as the Bucs would even the match with a 25-19 set win.

Set 5: The Vols grabbed a 7-0 run to start the fifth set with six straight serves coming from Tennessee’s Brooke Schumacher. Senior leader Kvarta reeled off nine straight serves to give the Bucs a 9-8 lead. Massey and McPartland came up huge for the Bucs denying the Vols of a kill to control their lead. The Vols would tie it at 11, before Massey, Tutton, and Clayton fired three kills in a row to get the Bucs to set point.

Tennessee’s Madison Coulter gave her a team a kill to put the score at 14-12, but Leah Clayton would finish it for the Bucs with a kill right down the middle of the court.

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